TransCanada Corp. on Oct. 28 officially opened its C$700 million Halton Hills Generating Station. The 683-MW 2 x 1 combined-cycle plant on a greenfield site in Ontario (Figure 5) will operate under a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Ontario Power Authority (OPA). Construction of the peaker plant started in December 2007 and was completed on time and on budget, TransCanada said.

5. Gas trumps coal in Ontario. Amid plans to phase out coal power in Ontario by 2014, the Canadian province’s government is looking to increase output from natural gas and nuclear plants. Last October, TransCanada Corp. opened its C$700 million Halton Hills Generating Station, a 683-MW 2 x 1 combined-cycle plant in the town of Halton Hills. Courtesy: TransCanada 

Just weeks before the announcement, the company was forced to terminate a contract with the province’s government to build the Oakville Generating Station, a C$1.2 billion natural gas–fired power plant planned for construction near Toronto, a project that had met with considerable public opposition from Oakville residents. The Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure said its decision to suspend development work on the plant was a result of power demand and supply changes, which had made it clear that the proposed plant was no longer needed.

TransCanada said it had undertaken extensive consultation with local stakeholders concerning the Halton Hills project, located just west of Toronto, and remained committed to open communication throughout the design, construction, and operation stages of the project.

Ontario is seeking to phase out its coal-fired power plants by 2014 and recently released a C$87 billion long-term energy plan, which projects that power demand in the province is expected to grow 15% between 2010 and 2030. Among key features of the plan are converting two units at the Thunder Bay coal plant to natural gas and converting the Atikokan coal plant to biomass.

The province’s Ministry of Energy also said that two additional coal units at Nanticoke would be shut down in 2011. Other efforts include increasing generating capacity from wind, solar, and bioenergy to total 10,700 MW by 2018 through transmission expansion, maximizing the use of the existing system, and feed-in-tariff programs. Among transmission plans to be given priority are five projects “needed immediately for reliability.”

But the bulk of the province’s efforts and funds will be spent on increasing nuclear power output, which provides nearly 50% of the province’s power, the ministry said. “To do so Ontario will rebuild what it can, and replace [what] it can’t,” it said. “Units at the Darlington and Bruce sites will need to be modernized and the province will need two new nuclear units at Darlington.” TransCanada is also part owner of Bruce Power, which it called “North America’s largest power facility.” Bruce is in the midst of a restart and refurbishment program that will ultimately deliver another 1,500 MW to the Ontario power grid, increasing the total output to over 6,300 MW. (See “Brace A Proves There Are Second Acts in Nuclear Power” in our August 2010 issue.)